By Anne Althauser
I know as women we can relate to this feeling: the feeling of wanting to do it all, then signing up to do it all, then feeling completely overcome by the weight of it all.
I felt this last week as I lay crying myself to sleep as the world and everything I had committed to in it felt too overwhelming. “I’ve signed up for too much. I can’t possibly do everything I said I would. Where do I even start?” I thought to myself. With the article I said I would write, the interview I said I would do, the dryer I said I would fix, the doctor appointment I said I would make, the groceries I said I would pick up, the class I said I would attend, or the friends and family I said I would make time to see?
I think back to the women I’ve been reading about all month for guidance and reassurance. Over the past 30 days, I have had the pleasure of reading about women from history I had never heard of before, or knew very little about, and my reaction has been nothing short of, “holy shit, where would we be without these women?!”.
Looking at my life and what I’m able to pursue and accomplish today, I think to myself, “I would never be where I am today if it weren’t for these revolutionary, feather-ruffling women who came before me”.
I quickly realize the stories of these women are not finished as we are renewing our commitment to carrying forward their legacies in our own lifetime. While we personally may have not met these women we’ve read about all month, we know these women in our communities, in our friend groups, and in our families. From the protesters, to the artists, educators, and caregivers, we glimpse sparks of revolutionaries inside the many women around us – united in the struggle for equity and justice.
And while I’m tempted to bring more attention to this long path towards equity we have before us, especially and most urgently for women of color, I will refrain simply because as women we know what the struggle is, and more often need to be reminded of our small past successes (yes, I could go on and on about how silly it is to have “Women’s History Month” just like it’s silly to have “Black History Month” as if our history should only be learned and celebrated for 31 days in a year).
So here’s looking at you, women who roll up their sleeves and say “I can fix that” to a broken car, hard drive, or burnt casserole.
And here’s looking at you, women who stand up on streets, in courts, and on their toes in order to sit down on busses and in boardrooms.
Here’s looking at you, women who speak up to be heard, who run faster to run farther, and who raise the voices of those who aren’t given one.
Here’s looking at you, the silent, humble champions in the corner doing all the grunt work and getting none of the credit, working double the hours for half the pay.
You all are the reasons we continue to fight for us. Without your courage and immense love, we would not be where we are today. Thank you.
In closing, this “31 Days of Revolutionary Women” has been nothing short of humbling and inspiring. I’m honored to have taken part in this remarkable project and look forward to celebrating all of these incredible women on April 8th at the Hillman City Collaboratory (see information below).
The more I learn about “herstory”, the more I am encouraged to continue working on “ourstory”. In solidarity and in strength, we women CAN (and will!) do it all.
A Celebration of Revolutionary Women (that means YOU!)
When: Friday, April 8th, 2016
Where: Hillman City Collaboratory (5623 Rainier Ave S.)
View the Facebook event page here.
If you’re a South Seattle resident and interested in writing about a revolutionary woman, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Marilee Jolin.
Anne Althauser is a graduate of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and writes a regular public health column for the Emerald.
Featured images, from left to right, starting from top: 1) Ancient painting depicting Mary of Egypt’s burial; 2) Illustration of Claudette Colvin by Hanako O’Leary; 3) Photo of child reading about Shirley Chisholm by AJ Beard; 4) Public domain image of Bessie Coleman and her plane in 1922; 5) Illustration for Margaret Sanger article by emily charlotte taibleson; 6) Photo of Kathrine Switzer modified from the original by Marathona licensed under CC BY 3.0; 7) Photo of Mavis Staples by digboston, licensed under CC BY 2.0; 8) “Photograph of Septima Clark, ca. 1960” is licensed under CC BY 4.0; 9) “self-portrait in setting sun” by Leslie Feinberg licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0; 10) Illustration of Berta Cáceres by Design Action Collective; 11) Photo of Sister Margarita by Freddie Helmiere; 12) Modified scan of a Jamaican $500 bill featuring Nanny of the Maroons; 13) Detail from “Little Laura Dukes” painting by ©Amy Crehore; 14) Statue of Marie Dorion by Rebecca Maxwell, ©2009 Historical Marker Database; 15) Mixed-media collage of Mary Fields by Dejah Léger; 16) “The First Lady of Arkansas” Daisy Bates: image modified from the original Central Avenue, leading to the state capitol Little Rock, Arkansas by Ewing Galloway